Monday, October 24, 2016

Accountability Monday: 10/24/2016

Hello and top of the mornin' to ya! I am writing to you today from Dublin, Ireland!

We are in town so my super talented husband can present his research at the Ireland International Conference on Education- how cool is he?!

We arrived yesterday and already we've had two pints of Guinness, Irish soda bread, and have been asked lots of questions about the US presidential election by the local folks :-)


Not much happened this week in terms of training and working out. It was an incredibly stressful week at work because I work for an institution of higher education where all the faculty went on strike. Thankfully, the strike started last Wednesday and ended on Friday so it was short and a successful resolution was reached for all parties. However, it was still an anxiety-provoking time for myself and other colleagues.

In times of stress, especially stress I cannot control, it's easy for me to use eating as a way to distract myself from the real issues of feeling distress or feeling uncomfortable. I'm pretty proud of how I stayed on track this week with eating, but not so much working out. Between lots of stuff going on at work and getting ready for Ireland, I did not make running/working out a priority. But, Matthew and I are planning on running while we're in Dublin so that will help get marathon training back on track.

Consistent healthy eating these past few weeks has resulted in some payoff- I lost .6 this week (even with our trip to Cape May!!) bringing my total weight back down to where I was pre-wedding! Now, this trip to Ireland will probably result in a gain but hopefully it's something manageable :-)

Since not too much happened this week in terms of marathon training, here's a few random pictures of our trip so far!

The fall season here is gorgeous but it's FREEZING!

Our former-monastery-turned-hotel.

Being a tourist at Trinity College.

Soup and beer for lunch- I can get used to this.

The beer here is 1000% better than in the US.

Ok, I think that sums it up for now! Have a fabulous week! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Accountability Monday: 10/17/2016

Hello from Cape May, NJ!

Matthew and I are still on vacation for one more day so here's a short and sweet Accountability Monday post!

He's my favorite. Cape May, NJ is a distant second :-)

Monday- PT knee/strength workout
Sunday- 4 mile walk
Monday- 17 mile run, 13:28 pace

Today's 17 miles felt AWESOME. So much better than the first long run we did a month ago (13 miles). We kept the pace slow and steady, hovering between 13:30 and 13:45 for the first 13 miles and then picked up the pace for the last four: 13:12, 13:03, 12:53, 12:09. I am so proud of us and our progress this training cycle!

Celebrating 17 miles with post-run beer and pool/hot tub time!

Food Find AND Non-Scale Victory
Eating at restaurants has always been a challenge for me. I find that the desire to overeat is strongest when I'm out instead of eating at home. Last Thursday, Matthew and I went out to eat at Carrabbas and I was nervous about finding something within my point range to eat. Surprisingly, I found their six ounce sirloin to have nine Smart Points (looked up the nutritional information online) and I chose to have it with steamed zucchini, no butter. I did also have a glass of wine and a cup of soup bringing the whole meal to 16 Smart Points. I left the restaurant feeling confident and in control, instead of bloated and irritated with myself. I call that a huge win :-)

Sirloin and zucchini from Carrabbas.  

+.2 this week.

After a big loss last week, I'm totally ok with a little gain!

Have a wonderful week, friends!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Five Things Friday

It's finally Friday!

I don't know about you, but this week has been draaaaaaaging!

Here's five things that are making me happy and looking forward to the weekend:

1. We leave for Cape May in three hours!

As a reader of this blog, you know we adore Cape May, NJ. It's a beautiful, historic seaside town with tons of shops, wineries, and festivals. We are headed down for an extended weekend with M's parents and can't wait to explore all the off-season fun at the shore. We've also got a 17 mile run on the calendar so we are looking forward to running somewhere other than our neighborhood.

We love Cape May.

2. StrideBox sent me a fun package to review. 

The super awesome folks at StrideBox sent me a cool box filled with samples of running products that I will review in full next week here. I can't wait to try out some of the bars they sent this weekend on our long run. Look for the full review coming soon!

All kinds of goodness.

3. We've got another awesome trip coming up- Dublin, Ireland!

Matthew and I are crossing the pond very soon to visit a place that's been on my list for years- Dublin! To do while we're there: drink authentic Guinness, tour Trinity College, and sing along to some jaunty Irish folk song in a hole-in-the-wall historically old tavern. Can. Not. Wait!

The Ha'Penny Bridge at sunset. Source

4. My running and weight loss story is being featured in a book: "Run Your Fat Off" by Jason Karp, PhD!

About a year ago on Instagram, I connected with a fellow runner and writer, Jason Karp, who was looking for runners who had lost weight while running to profile for his upcoming book. Well, the book is finally being published! You can pre-order the book on Amazon here. It will be published in March 2017. Jason has written a ton of other books about running and healthy living; I'm sure this new book will be full of information and inspiration like his others :-)

Can't wait to read it!

5. Fall is the BEST season for running.

Cooler weather + leaf-changing = best training runs of my year.

As seen on our usual running route.

What five things are rocking your world this Friday?!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Accountability Monday: October 10, 2016

Good morning, friends!

Let's recap the last two weeks of WDW Marathon training, shall we? :-)

Wednesday, 9/28- PT strength workout
Saturday, 10/1, 5.5 mile walk
Sunday 10/2- 15 mile run, 13:48 pace
Wednesday, 10/5- PT strength workout
Friday, 10/7- 30 minute run, 13:21 pace
Sunday, 10/9- 4 mile run, 11:47 pace

As you can see, the long runs are starting to get longer at this point in my training cycle (I use Jeff Galloway's plans for runDisney events). This upcoming weekend, we have a 17 mile run on the schedule- we'll also be in Cape May, NJ from Friday- Tuesday so at least we'll get a change of scenery! The 15-miler last week felt 100% better than the 13-miler a few weeks ago- I think adding the strength training is helping significantly.

Food Find of the Week:
I am a HUGE fan of Quest protein bars- especially if you warm them up in the oven or microwave- yum! So I found a recipe last week for a Quest bar hack that looked awesome: split a banana down the middle, put a Quest Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bar in the banana, add chocolate chips and PB2 (powdered peanut butter), and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

It was just ok. Not worth 8 Smart Points, that's for sure. There are TONS of other hacks out there so I'll probably try a few more out.

-2.2 from last weigh-in.

Hooray! I finally lost all my honeymoon weight! It may have taken five months to lose five pounds but I did it. Losing/maintaining weight is HARD, ya'll.

Non-Scale Victory:
Looking through some old pictures this week, I found one from five years ago with Matthew and I first started dating. Because he's wonderful, he took me to a Ravens/Eagles preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field in August 2011. I found the picture below and was so shocked at how different my face looked back then! Sometimes I get so discouraged with where my weight is now (versus my lowest in summer 2015) that I forget all of the progress I've made over the last few years.

Seeing this picture helps me honor every part of my journey and be proud of how far I've come in taking care of myself.

2011 and 2016

Have a fabulous Monday and a wonderful week!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Accountability Monday: September 26, 2016

Good morning, y'all! And happy Monday!

Thanks for bearing with my absence from this blog for the last two weeks. As you may know, I work for a university and because school just started back up, I've been insanely busy at work which leaves me little time to blog.

To be honest, I have felt very stressed the past few months; mainly because I feel like I'm constantly running, but not actually running, lol. Between leading two weekly Weight Watchers meetings, attending a WW meeting each week, working 40-50 hours a week at my full-time job, blogging, marathon training, and trying to lose these extra 7-10 pounds I've picked up, I have really felt absolutely zero sense of balance.

So, I made the tough decision to give up leading my Thursday night Weight Watcher meeting. It was hard to say goodbye to the members I've developed relationships with, but my health and sanity has to come first. Now with only one meeting a week to lead, I'll have more time to dedicate to Walt Disney World Marathon training and some much-needed downtime.

Speaking of training, there's only 15 weeks left until race day! Yikes!

Sunday- 13 miles, 2:50:41, 13:08 pace
Wednesday- PT knee workout
Friday- 2.59 miles, 30:04, 11:35 pace
Saturday- Runner's World Strength Anywhere workout
Sunday- 3 miles, 36:12, 12:01 pace, stretching, foam rolling, and some planks

Last Sunday was the beginning of the long runs this training cycle. We have 15 on the schedule for this upcoming weekend. *gulp!*

Side planks during the Ravens game; multitasking at its finest.

Food Find:
I have really been enjoying Al Fresco fully cooked chicken sausages- especially the ones with Italian seasonings and red and green pepper. I fry this in a pan with some onions, peppers and olive oil and then serve it over pasta with my homemade pasta sauce- made with crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, roasted garlic, and Italian seasonings.

For a quick, low-point meal, these are awesome! Have you ever tried chicken or turkey sausages before? What brands do you like?

The best part? These sausages are only 3 SP a piece!

+.4 this week
But, overall- I'm only one pound away from where I was before the wedding/honeymoon and I'm very happy with my progress this summer!

Non-Scale Victory:
Because of our schedules, Matthew and I have been eating out a bit more than usual. The other night, after a particularly long and stressful day, I chose to order a healthy option at a local restaurant, which is probably the opposite of what I wanted to order. This is a particularly hard challenge for me (eating at a restaurant) because I have a belief that eating out means I should "treat myself" and order the most fried, cheesy thing on the menu. It's still a struggle for me to remember why I go out to eat- to avoid cooking and cleaning, NOT to eat comfort foods. But I did it successfully this week. Sometimes, it really is about focusing on one meal at a time.

Chicken with kale pesto, roasted vegetables, and quinoa. Not wings and beer but it got the job done!

Have a great week!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Running Towards a Cure: Meet Members of Team Douglas

"Imagine a disease that combines the worst symptoms of muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, immune deficiencies, and cancer- especially leukemia and lymphoma, all rolled into one fatal genetic diseaseChildren with A-T are usually confined to wheelchairs by age ten and do not survive their teens." - Run AT: For Kids Who Can't, pamphlet from A-T Children's Project. 

Until a few months ago, I'd never heard of A-T, or Ataxia-Telangiectasia. Matthew first brought it to my attention when he approached me about running for the A-T Children's Project as a charity runner. He recently had a student in his class, Emma, who shared his affection for runDisney events and told Matthew about her experience running the 2016 Walt Disney World Half Marathon for the A-T Children's Project on Team Douglas. Douglas, or DJ as he's also known, is Emma's brother and he was diagnosed with A-T at the age of five. He's now 22 and defying the odds as an A-T "kid."

After learning more about A-T and the work that the A-T Children's Project does- and hearing about Emma's awesome experience- Matthew signed up to run the 2017 Dopey Challenge with Team Douglas. Recently, I sat down with Emma to talk to her about what motivates her to run for DJ and the A-T Children's Project. 

Emma (standing second from left) with DJ and some of the A-T Cure Team at last year's WDW Half Marathon.

Emma grew up athletic, though running was "not her sport." Her mom actually got her into running because she'd been running the WDW Marathon for 10 years- all for the A-T Children's Project. So last year, Emma decided to run her first half marathon at Walt Disney World as a part of Team Douglas. 

Leading up to the race, Emma's longest training run was nine miles. "Looking back," she says, "I wish I'd had more of a training plan." During the race itself, she said the heat was really getting to her and caused her to slow down a bit towards the end. She had a goal for her first half marathon- under two hours. 

"I was actually really mad at myself because I was looking at the time clocks on each mile marker, thinking that was the actual time I'd been running so I let myself slow down thinking 'oh, I won't reach my goal time' but actually, I finished in 2:04! If I had just not looked at the clocks and slowed down, I could have made my goal of sub-2."

Emma's goal for 2017? "Still sub-2."

Besides running and training, Emma and I talked for a long time about A-T, the impact DJ's diagnosis has had on her and her family's life, and how the disease manifests itself on DJ. A-T is a multi-system disease that involves immune system problems, a predisposition to cancer, progressive degeneration of the cerebellum, has no cure, and currently, there is no way to slow down the disease. 

DJ was diagnosed at five and was wheelchair-bound by 10. At age 14, he was diagnosed with a rare and acute type of blood cancer (one of the Leukemias) that resulted in over 100 days in the hospital the first year alone and an additional four years of chemotherapy. To this day, he still requires IVIG and platelet transfusions every six weeks and will continue to need them for the rest of his life.


But none of that slows DJ down. According to Emma, "He's a fighter. He never lets anything get him down and always has a big smile on his face, even if he's hurting." 

In addition to being an awesome brother, DJ also works part-time at a local running store, AppalachianRunning Company (ARC). I reached out to Josh Beck, owner of ARC, and asked him what DJ brings to the workplace: "So what does he bring?  A huge smile.  That’s the part I think about with Doug.  It’s easily the strongest muscle in his body!  He also brings a perspective to the store that is uniquely his.  It’s not often you see someone in a wheelchair selling running shoes.  His condition does not define him but it is a reminder that we all have it very, very good." 

I asked Emma about what motivates her to keep running for Team Douglas: "If he can go through all he's gone through and still fight, I can be in pain for two hours and run a half marathon. What I deal with is nothing compared to his daily life." 

After meeting with Emma it is clear how much her family has been impacted by A-T. While A-T itself is extremely rare, one in every 40,000- 100,000 live births, research into the disease can actually significantly advance research in other more prevalent diseases: Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, AIDS, and cancer. The A-T Children's Project is a "non-profit organization that raises funds to support and coordinate first-rate biomedical research projects, scientific conferences, and a clinical center- all aimed at finding a cure or life-improving therapies for ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T)."  

The Walt Disney World Marathon is one of the largest fundraisers for the A-T Children's Project. Runners from all over the country will descend upon Walt Disney World in early January of 2017 as part of the A-T Children's Project team with two common goals- successfully cross the finish line of their race and find a cure for A-T. 

As part of Team Douglas, Matthew will join the A-T runners as he runs all four races that weekend in the 2017 Dopey Challenge. I asked Matthew about his motivation to run as a charity runner: "I've had the good fortune to run at seven out of the last eight Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend events and I just wanted to give back as a charity runner. I want to run for those who can't- including Emma's brother and all the other A-T kids that the A-T Children's Project is working for."

Matthew's Goofy Challenge finish in 2013.

While I'm not officially part of Team Douglas, I wholeheartedly support all the work that the charity runners and the A-T Children's Project do to help fund-raise to find a cure for this disease. I can't wait to cheer on all the runners in a few months at Disney as they celebrate crossing their finish line and being one step closer to a cure. 

For more information about A-T and the A-T Children's Project, check out their website here

For more information on Team Douglas, click here 

Donate to Emma here or Matthew here

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Adulting in Disney Giveaway!

Good morning, friends!

I love Disney. Y'all should know this by now :-)

Matthew and I got engaged in Disney, we honeymooned in Disney, and since we've been together, we've probably spent a collective three months (or more!) vacationing and/or running at the World.


In fact, all but ONE of my visits to WDW have been as an adult- my first visit was at 16. One of the questions that Matthew and I get a lot is this: "You two don't have kids- why do you love Disney so much?" Honestly? Because it's one of the best places to vacation as an adult.

Through many trips (and lots of research) we've found fun things to see and do at WDW as a child-free couple. However, when our good friend Lauren started talking about launching a super-cool business, Adulting in Disney, I realized how much we were missing out on!

There are unique experiences, one-of-a-kind foods, delicious beverages, and insider kid-free tips that she knows about that Matthew and I- self proclaimed Disney experts- had absolutely no idea about. Right away, I knew she was on to something with this whole Adulting in Disney (AiD) thing!

Here's the skinny on AiD from Lauren herself:

What is it?

L: Adulting in Disney is a concierge-level planning service for your next adult Walt Disney World Vacation. I create unique, fully customized vacation itineraries based on multiple visits, exhaustive research and insider tips from my network of Walt Disney World lovers.

Basically that’s PR girl talk for I’m an adult that LOVES WDW and truly believes it’s the perfect vacation spot for adults.  I want to proselytize for others—everyone deserves an amazing adulting trip to Disney.

Why am I doing this?

L: In the last year I’ve been empowered to start doing things with my time that fill me up rather than grind me down.  After I co-founded a PR firm I found myself still obsessively dreaming of planning my Walt Disney World vacations.  I follow all the blogs, Twitter accounts and might have a few dream boards on Pinterest.  Since no one has put me on their mid-to back of pack elite running team, I figured I should really live by the moto “get paid for what you love doing – and that’s usually what you do in your free time.” Why not make my other hobby – Disney vacation planning – a service for other people?

Why should people use an Adulting in Disney itinerary?

L: I’ve been to Disney World over 20 times.  The first time I went was a disaster.  All I had was a map and the understanding that I needed to ride all the “Mountains” in the MK. We ate nothing but chicken fingers and French fries and I was surrounded by families and strollers.  While it was fun, I knew there was more (I saw it zipping by on the monorails!) that MB [Lauren's husband] and I loved to do that would have that special Disney Magic. With each trip I did more research, reading, reaching out to other people and my itineraries were more detailed and had more adult-friendly (read: nice dinners, amazing cocktail lounges, Extra Magical hours in the PM at MK!)  which in turn made our vacation even more magical.  An Adulting in Disney itinerary takes it one step further – finding and planning adult-specific activities for people who DON’T want to spend weeks and months researching and planning from scratch.  I’ve done almost all of it. And if I haven’t done it, I’ve read about it and desperately want to :-)

Is it really worth the cost to have someone else make a spread sheet?

L: Objectively, yes. An Adulting in Disney itinerary is going to save you time and money.  First, those of us that visit often know the pitfalls of making loose plans, the horror of not knowing about Advanced Dining reservations, or making plans that are unrealistic given the time constraints around a number of things like FastPasses, park hours, shows and worst of all Disney transportation.  AiD takes all the guess work out of where, when and how you’re going to get to your next cool activity.  And it saves money because let’s be real, your time is valuable.  You can spend hours sketching out your vacation, not really knowing if you’re making the right choice – or you can let me do it and you can focus your time on other important things, like finding the perfect Mickey t-shirt. 

How does the process work to make an AiD itinerary?

L: You can submit a form on my website with the basics and then there are two options: Vacationers can be as involved or hands-off as they want. I’m happy to let my imagination run wild with possibilities for you.  Or I’m happy to review lengthy must-do lists and help narrow down the possibilities – and add a few must-dos you might not have known about.  

Sounds pretty cool, right?!

Well guess what? It's about to get cooler! Steff and I have teamed up to give away a FREE 7-day Adulting in Disney itinerary! All you need to do is enter the giveaway below between now (9/15/16) and next Wednesday (9/21/16) at midnight. Winner will be chosen at random.

If you don't win but are still interested in AiD's services, just tell Lauren that Sarah or Steff sent you and you'll get 50% off a custom itinerary!

Seriously, check out the Adulting in Disney website to see more about what this awesome service has to offer and don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway